The Saint Bernard is one of the most popular breeds in America. This is due to their gentle personality, big size, and adorable face. They are friendly giants that love children and other animals.
In fact, they’re one of the biggest dog breeds.
But if you’re taking on such a big dog, you’ll need to have an equally large amount of knowledge, breed information and facts—from Saint Bernard’s exercise habits to their temperament to their health. So let’s find out what there is to know about this fascinating dog, the Saint Bernard.
Saint Bernard Breed Information: what you need to know
Breeding background information
Saint Bernards are from between Switzerland and Italy in the Western Alps. Like many other dog breeds, they were bred at the border between two countries. The Alps are extremely dangerous and, for almost 1000 years, there has been a monastery and hospice there. And a Saint called Bernard of Menthon built it.
In the 1600s this hospice bred dogs to rescue people who might’ve gotten lost in the Alps, so they named the breed after this Saint (although they are also known as Alpine Mountain Dogs or Alpine Cattle Dogs). This makes them great rescue and guardian dogs—but they were also used as working dogs by farmers.
· Bred to rescue people
· Amazing working and guardian dogs
· Bred to be large and strong
· Can easily follow scents
When do Saint Bernards stop growing?
Saint Bernards, like other dogs, stop growing once they reach maturity.
However, Saint Bernards will continue to fill out and gain weight as adolescents until they reach about 4 years old. Saint Bernards stop growing at different times depending on the dog, but most Saint Bernard dogs are fully grown by the time they are 5 or 6 years old.
Saint Bernard temperament
Saint Bernards are a lovely dog breed—probably because of their history of rescuing people. Most Saint Bernards have the following personality traits and temperament:
· Gentle giants
· Loves to please
· Hard working
They behave well indoors and love to be around people and other dogs. They are an extremely sociable dog breed.
Saint Bernards’ big coats make them better in cooler climates—they can suffer quite easily from heat exhaustion in hot climates if they have long coats. They also love to play in the mud and bring in dirt. Due to their size, it is best to have a larger place for this breed to stay in. Not great for flats or apartments.
Unfortunately, this is the most tragic thing about having the Saint Bernard breed: they often suffer from various health issues (and combined with their size) only live around 8-10 years. So do everything you can to help your dog live longer.
St Bernards’ Size
A big dog means a big weight. A healthy Saint Bernard weighs around 65-120kg (140-260lb). They are extremely tall, coming in at 70-90cm (28-35inches). So you can’t put them to sit on your lap.
Their coats can be long or short but, due to being mixed with Newfoundlands, often have longer coats. St. Bernard colors range from red to white to brown.
Information on how to look after your Saint Bernard
Socializing your dog
Saint Bernards are a very social dog breed. Still you need to take them out into the real world to meet other dogs, people and strangers from a young age so that they are happy as adults. Constantly expose them to new people and experiences as puppies and beyond.
How to Groom a Saint Bernard
Saint bernards shed and drool a lot so to keep them clean your St Bernard will need grooming as often as possible. The grooming routine requires brushing, toenail clipping and washing.
Saint Bernards should be bathed as needed.
Their toenails grow quickly and need to be kept trimmed so they do not curl inward or outward which can cause pain and discomfort for them.
Saint Bernards are especially susceptible to yeast infections in their ears so you need to check them often. A smelly ear is a sign of a yeast infection. It is recommended to see your vet.
Grooming your St Bernard is not as hard as you might think and they will enjoy, they love to be clean and smell good, Daily brushing is required during shredding time.
How to brush a Saint Bernard?
These giant dogs require daily brushing to keep their coat clean, healthy and free of tangles. Saint Bernard’s should only be brushed when they are completely dry so it is best that you groom them before a bath.
Saint Bernards shedding is one issue you will have to learn to live with. They shed their undercoat twice a year so brush more during this time. Use a firm bristle brush and brush in the direction of the Saint Bernard’s coat.
Hair around their eyes and ears needs to be trimmed and some Saint Bernards need hair trimming on their front legs for comfort and cleanliness.
Saint Bernard Health
How much do St Bernards eat?
The amount of food you give your pup will depend on their energy requirements. A Saint Bernard puppy needs about 2-3 cups of food per day. Your puppy’s breeder should be able to advise what type and what brands of food you should feed your dog. Keep in mind that the healthier the diet you give your Saint Bernard, the better they will look and feel.
A Saint Bernard eats about 2-3 cups of food a day as an adult. It is important to keep your dog at a healthy weight by limiting how much they eat. Obesity can lead to many health problems for Saint Bernards.
Saint Bernards often have serious health problems. As already said, the Saint Bernard breed does not live for too long (8-10 years) because of their size and these various health conditions.
Some common Saint Bernard health problems include:
· Gastric torsion
· Bone diseases
· Joint diseases
· Hip dysplasia – misalignment of the hip
Run these problems over with the vet to check your Saint Bernard’s health.
How to look after a Saint Bernard’s health
To look after your Saint Bernard’s health and give them the best health care, follow these steps:
- Feed them lots of high-quality food
- Exercise with moderate walks
- Brush your dog’s teeth 3-7 times a week
- Give it dentist sticks for their oral health
- Research symptoms
- Regularly examine your dog yourself (and with the vet)
These exams are especially important for Saints because of their health issues. To learn how to identify these issues, read Malcolm Fields’ book the Ultimate Guide to Dog Health, which has flow charts on what to do with various dog health problems. Don’t just do this though: if you think anything might be wrong with your Saint Bernard, always go to the vet.
Are St Benards lazy?
As for exercise, Saint Bernards don’t need too much: they’re very docile and (sometimes) quite lazy. Still always take them out for exercise.
If you have their respect, Saint Bernards are not too bad to train. They can be stubborn but are also eager to please, which makes them good training companions. Do regular training sessions with your Saint and learn more about proper training techniques too.
Are Saint Bernard dogs good to have?
Saint Bernards can be great family dogs. They are good natured creatures who are kind and sweet around family, strangers and dogs, so make for great family dogs that are a pleasure to have around.
Saint Bernards are large, gentle dogs with a big personality. They’re very intelligent and make excellent family pets.
If you live in an apartment or don’t have the space for one of these hulking canines, consider another breed that’s more compact breed.
One thing to note about Saint Bernards is they require daily walks due to their high energy levels which may not be possible if your living situation doesn’t allow for it. We hope this post has given some insight into what makes this beautiful dog so special!
Do you have a Saint Bernard in your home? Share with us what it’s like living with this breed!